12.27.2009

Welcome to My Life on the Mat

This is a humble and tentative offering of my daily home practice to the world.  This is an attempt to give, to balance the enormous gifts I have received in the solitude of ritual.  This is a word of encouragement to those who choose to practice at home, because of the privacy, or the lesser expense, or limited access to instructors, or whatever the reason, and wonder if what they do would be considered "real yoga" by real yogis.  This is my attempt to document the path I have taken for the use of others as I continue to poke and feel (or leap and bound!) my way through the often convoluted world of yoga.

This is also a cry for help.  This is the crumbling of the walls.  This is the result of three years of isolation and avoidance.  My daily practice has become precious to me, and I have selfishly and fearfully protected it from the world.  I was afraid that the wrong influences would destroy the foundation of my practice.  I feared the judgment that surely awaited me in a class.  I thought my practice was a fragile thing.  I was wrong.

After nearly three years of practice, beginning sporadically and now daily, I attended my first yoga class in October of 2009.  It was a Power Yoga class, which I hoped would be appropriate since my practice is Ashtanga Vinyasa and Iyengar inspired.  I was very anxious, which was distinctly inappropriate right from the beginning.  I tried sitting quietly on my mat, eyes closed, awakening the breath, as I waited for class to start while others found their places.  I couldn't ignore the sounds of the other practitioners, some chatting, some stretching, some sprawled in savasana.  I opened my eyes and watched the room through the mirror.  The instructor was a laid-back, yet motivating gentleman, who offered strong cues, but little alignment insight.  The class was fun and dynamic, with lots of vinyasas, standing balancing poses, and even a good long bakasana.  Though I found all the yogis jammed in around me to be a little disorienting, it was also enlightening, inspiring, and amusing.  Before I knew it, I was lying in savasana, pleasantly drenched and exhausted.  Damn good yoga, I thought to myself, as I so often do in savasana.

After class, as I was leaving, the instructor approached me.  He told me that I have "a good practice" and asked if I was a yoga teacher somewhere in the area.  I was disarmed.  Rather than tell him I had actually never attended a class before, I simply smiled and said, "no."  Hmmm.  So I was correct that my practice would be judged if taken out in the open, though not in the way I had so anxiously anticipated.  The instructor's comment left me feeling conflicted; I felt vindicated, victorious!  Yet, somehow I also felt as though I'd been given a new burden to carry.

I have since returned to the studio many times.  However, I still prefer to practice at home-- alone.  My home practice is a meditation.  It's a ritual.  It's an offering to my body and my mind.  In the positive influence it has had on my life, it is an offering to the world.  And, apparently, it's real yoga.

This is me, having dipped my toe in the pool, and having found the water to be quite nice, diving in headfirst.  In the coming weeks and months, I intend to highlight some of my early and favorite resources, share some of my daily practice experiences, and perhaps other random musings.

6 comments:

  1. I really admire people who can maintain a serious yoga practice solo, particularly those who start out that way. Despite generally being an alienated introvert who can easily go for days without speaking to anyone, I've never done very well practicing on my own. And I gotta say, nobody's ever mistaken me for a yoga teacher (then, being big and clumsy is probably a factor there...).

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  2. Welcome to blogging! I linked you to my teandoranges blog. Happy Writing!

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  3. I also prefer a home practice. I am a recovered anorexic and group classes (yoga, aerobics, whatever) make me very anxious and get me comparing my effort/body/athleticism/beauty/lack of beauty with the other participants. Home yoga is so much more what I think yoga "should" be (for me).

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  4. Great Blog!!
    I lived in Texas for 35 years, I miss it...

    I'm working on a book about yoga. I'm going up the west coast of the US interviewing yoga teachers. Please consider adding me as a yoga source or blog.

    one-with-life.com or on Twitter: Stephanieyogini

    Namaste

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  6. I too started practicing Ashtanga at home alone by myself. It is only now, after 4 years that I have started attending Mysore style classes every morning and I must say I love it. My dream is to become completely submerged in yoga, work with it, teach it, write about it. I have just started my blog in attempt to do so, curiouslyhappy2.blogspot.com

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

    Namaste

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